Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats said Monday that the U.S. intelligence community has been “clear” in its findings on Russian interference in the 2016 election, rebutting an attack by President Trump during a joint appearance with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki.
“The role of the Intelligence Community is to provide the best information and fact-based assessments possible for the President and policymakers,” Coats said in a statement. “We have been clear in our assessments of Russian meddling in the 2016 election and their ongoing, pervasive efforts to undermine our democracy, and we will continue to provide unvarnished and objective intelligence in support of our national security.”
Coats’s statement came not long after a news conference at which Trump prompted an outcry from both sides of the aisle with his unquestioning acceptance of Putin’s denial of Russian interference as well as his assertion that the ongoing Russia probe is “a disaster for our country.”
Trump has frequently dismissed critiques of his administration as the work of “deep state” operatives within the intelligence and foreign policy bureaucracy. Yet Coats, a former senator from Indiana, is Trump’s own nominee: He was tapped by the president last year to serve as director of national intelligence.
In a tweet later Monday, Trump appeared to play down his earlier comments.
“As I said today and many times before, ‘I have GREAT confidence in MY intelligence people,’ ” Trump tweeted. “However, I also recognize that in order to build a brighter future, we cannot exclusively focus on the past — as the world’s two largest nuclear powers, we must get along!”